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55 Melanie Almeder Decline of a Century Still there were waxed Calendulas, the red-tipped hibiscus, the Peace roses, pink unto unreal whiteness, and there were the usual unruly bees, the stinks of honeysuckle, the occasional throaty purr ofhumming bird tacking in, away. Nearby, a town made tinder by July burned like a determined, steady thought. Ashes sighed up the sky. Within spitting distance, the Café Risque sold "life-like erotic parts" and promised "bare-all buffets." The mother around the corner found one of the sex toy discards, mistook it for a dismembered woman, called the sheriff, parted the bougainvillea, "to find the rest of the poor girl." Tenderness had a time of it, sighed like the unholy heat, and then slid by us. It was our golden fish, gone back to quiet depths. The sun burned bone-white. We stared clouds into a familiar face, the day into a fact, like a kiss. ...


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